When people are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, they have several decisions that they need to make, including what type of treatment protocol they want to pursue, how to handle their family affairs, and whether to pursue legal action against those who are responsible. In many cases, the responsible parties are companies whose products were contaminated with asbestos. Though many of these companies have been forced into bankruptcy over the years, others remain solvent and are frequently called to defend themselves in the New York City asbestos court known as NYCAL, which is known to be particularly sympathetic to mesothelioma victims. Some of the most recognized brands in United States chemical and manufacturing industries, including Dow Chemical’s Union Carbide, Ford Motor Company, and Honeywell are named in these suits, and recently took legal action to prevent that court from allowing victims to seek punitive damages, as well as to expedite their cases in the face of a terminal diagnosis. They were disappointed when their effort was defeated.
The companies facing mesothelioma lawsuits heard from New York’s highest court that they would not hear their appeal of a recent ruling that would allow victims to continue to hear their cases in an expedited manner. The companies were looking for the New York Court of Appeals to overturn what has been called the “accelerated docket” on the grounds that it forced them to prepare for multiple cases in a short period of time, even though the cases might not ever make it into a court room, but their argument was denied, with the court saying that the new order “does not finally determine an action or proceeding within the meaning of the Constitution.” The higher court’s decision leaves the asbestos companies with few options, despite their argument that they would be burdened by having to prepare depositions, testimony and investigations for cases that might never be heard.
Though the companies accused of causing mesothelioma can still ask for another review, based on historic refusals to overturn these types of decision their consideration of the case is unlikely. That leaves them having to defend themselves and possibly face multi-million dollar verdicts compounded by punitive damages. These companies unanimously deny their role in causing mesothelioma, though there is extensive evidence supporting the notion that they put profits over people in their decision making process over the use of asbestos.
Though the companies were disappointed by this verdict, those who act as advocates for victims see it as a victory that levels the playing field between individuals struck by tragedy and the enormous companies that they are battling in court. For information about the resources available to mesothelioma patients, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.